In the South, high school wrestling is not usually regarded as highly as football, baseball, or basketball. But to wrestlers, it is the only sport that matters. Unlike most team sports, wrestling puts full responsibility on the individual athlete which can go a long way in developing character in young men and women. (Forbes.com recently posted an article on the benefits of wrestling – Check it out here.) Recently though, wrestling has begun to win over a larger audience. Some of the rise in popularity could be due to the UFC or other mixed martial arts competitions, but I feel it can also be attributed to the outstanding performances that some of our local Beaufort wrestlers.
One of this year’s standouts is Battery Creek High School senior Deandre Johnson who has had a fantastic senior year (62-1) and hopes to win the state tournament this weekend at 160 pounds. Even more impressive is the fact that Deandre or “Dre” has only been wrestling for two years! We were very impressed with this young man’s leadership on the mat and devotion to his sport and decided to ask him some questions:
Beaufort Online: How did you get involved in this sport? How long have you been training/competing?
DeAndre Johnson: When I was younger, me & my older brother would always wrestle in the house. My mom put us in karate when we were VERY young. My brother joined the wrestling team in Savannah (Groves High School), then we both got on Battery Creek’s team when we moved here.
BOL: What is your current season record? How about your all-time record?
DJ: My current season record is 62-1. My all-time record is 107-12, NOT including my freestyle record. I finished 8-1 in freestyle.
BOL: What are your ultimate goals in pursuing this sport?
DJ: Well, I wanted to try for the olympics, or be a fighter, but they took away Olympic wrestling.
BOL: Who is your favorite coach? Can you tell us a bit about why he or she is so influential to you?
DJ: I can’t really say I have a favorite, because I love ALL my coaches. I think I’ve been around Coach Shuman the most though. He’s trained me for strength & conditioning, coached me in football, took me to speed camps, took me out to eat & all. He’s been tough on me ever since he got to Creek. Coach Day & Coach Beach are hard on me too. I’ve known them the longest. They taught me some moves I know, and they all push me to be the best.
BOL: How do you usually prepare for a match or tournament while training? How about the day of the match?
DJ: I think about how hard somebody else might be working, so I sort of compete in my head. Weightlifting, Running, ROTC Physical Training at school. I’d watch videos and use my friends as a practice buddy when they come over. “Hey Brandon, come here… I want to try this new move.” On the match days, I’m just calm, confident & I think about the work that I put in on the weekdays. THAT usually gets me motivated, fired up.
BOL: What benefits does your sport have for young people?
DJ: Well, it’s a tough sport and I think that it could help you get through tough situations sometimes in life.
BOL: What is the hardest thing about being an athlete?
DJ: The hard work that you have to put in at practice, and at school.
BOL: Do you have any matches or competitions that you wish you could do over? Can you tell us what happened and what you would do differently?
DJ: Not really. At this point, I’m actually glad that matches went the way they went in the past, because it REALLY made me want to do better. I HATED the feeling of being pinned, so I worked harder.
BOL: Why should a college or sponsor choose you to represent them as an athlete?
DJ: I believe that I could be very successful in whatever I do, and I will work for it.
BOL: Who are you most thankful for in your athletic career?
DJ: Who am I most thankful for? My family, school, my peers… MY COACHES. Before I got to Creek, I never really had coaches, teachers, or administrators THAT hard on me. They did their best to get me on the right track and to keep me there. Coach Shuman gets a plus though. I think he ALWAYS got me in my place when I kind of fell off. He’s a big, aggressive guy that I can tell ONLY wants the best for his athletes. Not just me, but ALL of us. I am thankful for them all!
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